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Radical new supermini previewed by Renault. Image by Renault.

Radical new supermini previewed by Renault
Future Renault Clio will be inspired by 282mpg EOLAB concept car.
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What's this all about?

Renault has only gone and stolen the show (specifically the Paris Motor Show) weeks before the doors even open, with this concept car, called the EOLAB.

Looks like a pie-in-the-sky concept to me...

Indeed it does, but the futuristic concept car styling hides a near 100 technical innovations (according to Renault) that are set to appear in production cars before 2020. We believe they'll focus on the active aerodynamics, weight reduction and a new hybrid powertrain.

Tell us a little more about all that.

Browse through the image gallery and you'll spot some of the active aerodynamics at work in the guise of the rear flaps, but there's more, including an active front spoiler and wheels that change their internal shape to prioritise low drag or brake cooling as needs be. And the ride height has three settings depending on driving conditions. In certain guises the EOLAB is claimed to have 30 per cent less drag than the current Renault Clio, with a Cd value of 0.235. That alone is said to reduce CO2 output by 40g/km at motorway speeds.

But there's more right?

Yup. A 400kg weight reduction is worth mentioning, bringing the mass of the EOLAB down to under 1,000kg. Renault says that every 10kg saves 1g/km of CO2, so that's another 40g/km knocked off theoretically. It's thanks to the use of lightweight materials and completely redesigned sub-systems such as the brakes. As Renault points out, once you start reducing weight in one area - such as the body - it leads to less weight needed in other areas - such as the suspension. And that reduction has been made despite the addition of a new petrol-electric hybrid propulsion system.

Nothing new about that, is there?

Actually, there is. Renault says it's the subject of no less than 30 new patents, though we don't know what they're all for as yet. In essence it's a range extender set-up, with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a compact electric motor, though Renault has devised a few new ways to use the mechanicals, meaning the adoption of a small three-speed gearbox and no clutch whatsoever.

Any meaningful numbers we can understand?

On electric power the EOLAB can travel nearly 40 miles (and at speeds of up to 75mph) before a recharge of the battery is required. Its official combined cycle fuel economy figure is quoted as 282mpg, while emissions are a scarcely believable 22g/km. Renault foresees two distinct modes of operation; one for commuting during the week when maximum efficiency is required - and the distance travelled is predictable - and another for the weekend when a longer range and more performance may be desirable. The petrol engine is used more in the latter case.

Still sounds very far-fetched!

Agreed, but the project is more than just a show car to get us excited about Renault in Paris; it's part of a multi-million pound scheme by the French government to bring fuel consumption of less than 2.0 litres/100km (about 141mpg) to the masses, by encouraging innovation in the French motor industry. Hence all the patents and talk of bringing some of the EOLAB's technology to production.

Shane O' Donoghue - 22 Sep 2014

2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.

2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.2014 Renault EOLAB concept. Image by Renault.    - Renault road tests
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